June 1, 2023

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Study revealed that hard drives usually fail in less than 3 years – hard drive

Backblaze, a cloud storage and backup service known for its detailed analysis of hard drive and SSD failures, recently published its own research About the average life of problematic hard disk drives (HDDs).

The company examined 17,155 failed hard disks and found that the average age at which the drives experienced irreversible failure was 2 years and 6 months. This is consistent with a previous report by Secure Data Recovery, which found that the median time before failure among 2,007 failed hard drives was 2 years and 10 months.

Backblaze arrived at its results by looking at all of the faulty drives and their activation times. The company recorded each unit’s failure date, model, serial number, capacity, failure, and SMART value. The data set includes 72 different samples and does not include problem boot drives, disks without SMART data, or disks with data out of bounds.

If Backblaze only looked at the drives it was no longer using in its data centers, the average failure life would be slightly longer, at 2 years and 7 months. Backblaze plans to continue monitoring the average failure life of its drive models and will update the public if it finds anything interesting.

When looking at the average lifetime of a drive failure by model, Backblaze has narrowed the number down to 30 models. Notable among them is the Seagate ST12000NM0007 12TB drive, which had 2,023 failures when the average for each drive was 1 year and 6 months. The only model with more failures was the 4TB Seagate ST400DM000.

Backblaze also provided a quarterly update for the hard drives under its belt. The average annual failure rate (AFR) was 1.4%. The drive with the lowest AFR (0.28%) is a WUH721816ALE6L4 16TB drive from Western Digital Corporation (WDC). The model with the highest AFR (2.57%) is the 4TB ST4000DM000 from Seagate.

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In conclusion, Backblaze research provides valuable information about the average lifespan of hard drives. While there is some variation by model and capacity, the average overall life to failure is around 2 years and 6 months, which is certainly surprising.

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